Most new cars come out standard with daytime running lights. They may make the car look stylish, but do they help your safety by making you more visible on the road?
In many European countries, it has become a compulsory standard to have daytime running lights on cars. However, it is still up to the driver to decide on when to put on their headlights in different lighting conditions or weather-related aspects.
What is the law in South Africa when it comes to daytime running lights?
Unfortunately, in South Africa it is not compulsory to have daytime running lights. According to the Automobile Association (AA), visibility is key to someone’s reaction time. It is vital to see and be seen. Daytime running lights would be a great law to implement as you will be more visible on the road to other drivers and you will be able to see other cars approaching you.
Regulation 161 A (1) states that daytime running lights may be fitted to any motor vehicle, except a trailer, inside the following dimensions:
First, check with your insurer and carmaker to see if they advise for or against fitting aftermarket daytime running lights. If you are happy to proceed, then consider the below information before you start. When connecting daytime running lights onto your vehicle, when it’s not a standard feature, you must ensure that they switch off when the main headlights are switched on except if you flash your headlights as a warning signal to other motorists. They must also be wired in such a way that the taillights work at the same time.
When are daytime running lights not seen as a safety feature?
Daytime running lights are not a safe substitute for your fog lights. Under Regulation 163, fog lights are covered separately. Fog lights are not to be used as daytime running lights. Regulation 163 (6) states: “No person shall operate on a public road with a motor vehicle, while any fog lamp fitted to such vehicle, is lit, except in conditions of poor visibility caused by snow, fog, mist, dust or smoke.”
By having daytime running lights, it significantly increases your visibility, especially driving in South Africa as we have many local conditions to consider. We have many informal settlements situated next to main highways; this increases pedestrian fatalities quite considerably. Children living in rural communities have to walk far to attend school, using many busy roads on their route. It is essential in these cases for cars to be more visible to reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
Let’s hope as time goes by that daytime running lights become mandatory in South African law. This will help reduce accidents and many fatalities on our roads every day.
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This article was prepared by Eric Sandmann in his personal capacity. The views and opinions in the article should not be attributed to anyone but the author unless expressly stated. Nothing in this article should be relied upon as advice, this publication is presented for informational purposes only. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found in this article, without first obtaining proper financial advice from the appropriate professional. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, or completeness, of any information linked from, referred to, or contained in this article. The author reserves the right, to edit and change the content of this article.